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A NOTE WHICH WENT ASTRAY

could not tell him the truth, neither could I lie to him with grace. So I simply said:

"It was not her fault," probably the worst remark I could have made.

"Then, this note is true? You did meet my wife by appointment in the ruined chapel at Sceaux?"

"No, by my honour, there was no appointment; I came upon her by chance, and through no consent of hers."

"And so you presumed to meet my wife in a lonely place—which she denies to me upon her honour, as you now swear; you were there 'hot, impulsive and hasty' which this honourable missive of yours craves pardon for. Now you seek another private interview which you say you can not live without?"

I nodded moodily, wishing only to have the matter over, and avoid his further questioning.

"By my soul, Captain, I am rejoiced to find you so frank—rejoiced that you do not lie. The other, God knows, is bad enough."

I winced, but held my tongue.

"Our business, then, is plain enough; and there is no time like the present."

So saying he cast off his coat and began to roll his sleeves back, leaving bare that magnificent forearm of his, supple and dexterous. Imitating him we were both soon stripped for action.

I had only my light rapier, worn about the garrison, while he was armed with his heavy campaign blade. I was already a dead man, or so I felt, for there was no